10 Unmissable Things You Need To Do In Bergen, Norway
Bergen is known for its rain. If you think London is rainy, you are wrong. Bergen is considered the rainiest city in the world. It rains 240 days per year! If you want to witness a rare sighting in Bergen, visit the city between June and August.If you’ll be lucky enough you’ll have nothing but sun (literally both during the night and day due to the sun never truly setting).
Yes, there is no denying it, Bergen is allegedly either the wettest city in Europe or the entire world (depending on your internet source). You would think that much rain would put a damper on spirits, but no these hardy Vikings have developed plenty of alternative activities for a rainy day.
In the process created an international city filled with cozy coffee shops, world class-dining, twenty + museums and plenty of other incredible attractions to fill a travelers calendar for weeks or months.
With so many things to do in Bergen, it’s important not to miss the absolute highlights, which is where this travel guide comes in with 11 Unmissable Things You Need To Do In Bergen. Of course, there are plenty more to do – but for 3-4 days in Bergen, this should keep you very busy.
You Can Discover the Splendours of Bryggen Wharf
Bryggen is the undisputed king of motifs for Bergen postcards, and for good reason. The line of bright house facades facing the Vågen bay is just the beginning of exploring Bryggen. The houses – the oldest of which dates back to the 13th century – hide custom shops, eateries and even a secret World War II hideout museum in their backyards too. Walk around this living and breathing UNESCO world heritage site.
Bergen’s Architecture is More Than Just Bryggen
Though Bryggen wharf stands out for its age and location next to the water, Bergen is full of other streets, facades and architectural details worth exploring in their own right. Bergen is full of colourful wooden houses, and together with the crooked, cobbled streets they help give Bergen its special charm and character.
Take a Trip Back In Time At The Hanseatic Museum To Search Bergen’s Rich Trading History
Never heard of the Hanseatic League? No worries – I’m sure you’re not the only one! Luckily Bergen has the fantastic Hanseatic Museum on-hand to showcase how the German merchants of the Hanseatic League lived and worked within Bryggen and examines how the complex has changed over the centuries.
The Hanseatic Museum is also housed in one of the oldest buildings in Bergen (which survived the later fires) and has been perfectly preserved, right down the real dried stockfish and creaky wooden floors!
Get a Taste of Bergen
Norway is famous for its fishery industry, and Bergen was the high seat of fishing and seafood trading, even in medieval times. Its fish market is open every day right in the city centre just opposite Bryggen. There’s a good amount of seafood restaurants around here to sample some of the freshest treasures of the ocean you’ll find anywhere. If you don’t fancy sitting through a three course meal or paying Norwegian restaurant prices, try out the fishmongers’ take-away dishes like fiskekaker, meatball-like fish patties, which you can have served in burger buns for a truly Norwegian delicacy.
Take in the Magnificent Views of the City
A trip the top of one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, Mount Floyen, is a must when there. We recommend taking the funicular which gets you up there in less than 6 minutes and offers stunning views. An alternate route (and if you have more time) would be to hike up the side of the mountain. That would take roughly 1 hour to get up. From here you can catch breathtaking views of the city, either from the platform balcony they provide or from smaller hidden areas such as the one that Pat and I found below. There is a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy lunch, dinner, snack or a nice cold beer on one of the few sunny days.
Many don’t know this, but there is more to explore on Mount Floyen than just the view. Roughly 100 yards away from the viewing area hides Tubakuba, a sleekly designed rabbit hole cabin available for anyone to sleep – FREE OF CHARGE. That’s right, you heard me. Free. You need to apply to be accepted to sleep in it but you can stay in this quaint rabbit hole with views of the city overlooking Bergen.
Enjoy the Fresh Air and Delicious Water
These may sound like arbitrary points, but Norway’s fierce protection of its domestic environment and its abundant natural resources have resulted in some of the purest, best-tasting tap water you’ll find in any country and some of the freshest air even in cities like Bergen and Oslo. Spending a couple of days in Bergen may even feel like a bit of a detox.
Astounding Nature is Just Minutes Away
The Fløibanen railway may be a bit touristy, but once you step away from the viewing platform, you begin to realise just how big a presence raw, natural wilderness has in Norway. You’ll be minutes from the centre of Bergen, but you can hike for hours and see just a few people on your path.
Explore Western Norway from Bergen
Western Norway can boast some of Norway’s most impressive natural wonders, including many of the country’s best fjords. If you have a car available, national parks such as Folgefonna and Hardangervidda are within fairly easy reach considering the huge size of the country. Combine a night or two in Bergen with a driving holiday or use Bergen as your base for some amazing day trips. Ye of little car, despaireth not: Norway’s excellent transport systems make it possible to reach some pretty spectacular places by bus too or train as well.
You Can Go on a One-Day Fjord Cruise
As said, western Norway is home to lots of spectacular fjords. Many different companies offer half-day or full-day cruises up fjords such as Osterfjorden, Nærøyfjorden and Sognefjorden – the longest open fjord in the world and one of the most spectacular. You can reach all of these within hours of departing from Bergen’s city centre.
Bergen is Great All Year Round
It’s probably fair to say that the Bergensians know how to handle a bit of rain and snow. Visitors need not fear winters in Norway; the country is well-equipped to deal with snow, and Norwegian houses are designed to keep a toasty indoor temperature even in minus degrees. A famous Norwegian saying goes “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, and as long as you have a scarf, hat and good winter coat to put on, you’ll find that Bergen is just as charming in the winter as in the summer, and that a whole new bunch of activities are unlocked in the colder months. Two of Norway’s best ski resorts, Geilo and Voss, are within a couple of hours’ reach on the Oslo-Bergen railway line, for example, and the seven mountains immediately surrounding Bergen are great skiing destinations too. No excuses not to go to Bergen then!